I have recently come across a great paper about human energy, it is referenced at the end of this piece. It set me thinking about what it was saying in relation to Appreciative Inquiry. These are my thoughts.
Unclear objectives are sometimes unavoidable, the dangers and how to avoid as learned in Bosnia
Brief account of the book
The book has noble, honourable and inspiring intentions: it offers holocracy as a ‘new operating system’ for organizations that will create a ‘peer-to-peer distributed authority system’. This operating system creates empowered people who are clear about the boundaries of their authority, about what they can expect from others, and are able to be highly effective in their roles.
Brief Account of the book
The book is based on two rounds of research undertaken by the authors in collaboration with their MBA students. They identified the organizations initially by asking the question ‘Tell us about some companies you love. Not just like but love.’
For those who would like to dip their toe into the positive psychology world I've plucked a few of the recommendations from my book, Positive Psychology At Work, for you to have a look at. Hopefully they illustrate just how intuitive a lot of this is - which doesn't make it easy to do in a hierarchical, busy organisation of course!
Elicit Success Stories
Start meetings with a round of success stories. Before you get into the meat of the meeting, usually a litany of problems and challenges, start by giving people the opportunity to share the best of their week.
Many people find meetings challenging. These five tips will help your meetings be more successful, enjoyable and productive.
You can purchase our E-booklet that will take you through preparing for and running a great meeting in a step-by-step way here
1. Start with something positive
How? Ask everyone a question like ‘What’s been your greatest success, big or small, since we last met?’ or, ‘Which of your achievements over the last month are you most proud of?’ or ‘Which of your staff do you feel most grateful too, and why?’
Why? Because sharing good news boosts mood (and shares resources) which enhances creativity and problem-solving abilities
Engaged employees are a business imperative: they perform 20% better and give 57% more discretionary effort  Organizations with a high level of engagement have better quality, sales, income and turnover, profit, customer satisfaction, shareholder return, and business growth, and success.  It is estimated that currently only 19% of employees are highly engaged in their work, while active disengagement cost the UK economy between £37.2bn and £38.9bn a year .
Organizations often struggle to understand what creates engagement. Positive psychology research is revealing that employee engagement is primarily a psychological and social process. There are a number of steps organizations can take to increase engagement.
So Why Do We Need To Do Change Differently
1. Because the old ways are too slow and hard
Traditionally change has been a top-down, linear, compliance process; first designed and then implemented. In today’s fast paced world this takes too long and is too hard. People resist the pressure. Instead we need change that is whole-system owned and generated, focused on maximising tomorrow not fixing yesterday.
How do we make training stick? We know that investing in the human capital of our workforce by upping their skill level is vital to any organisation, but if you've ever sat through a boring training session - or when that brought back unpleasant memories of school - you know that there is high significant chance this time and money will be wasted. Here I list and explore seven tips to help your training sessions be impactful and enjoyable, for you and your trainees.
1. Step out of the expert role
Often we are asked to run a training session due to our expertise in an area. Strangely this can be a challenge as we encounter what is known as the ‘expert problem’. Essentially our own knowledge and skill are so integrated that we can’t easily separate out the elements to construct a good training path; and we have forgotten how new and challenging this all is to the novice. The danger is that we inadvertently overwhelm or confuse with our expert knowledge.
I’m thrilled to announce that I am one of the organising group for the next EU AI network get together to be held in my home town of Greenwich in London on 19th-21st of October.
The Network of practitioners from across Europe gets together twice a year to share experiences, knowledge and skills and to offer mutual support on work and life. The get together is held in the spirit of Appreciative Inquiry, which creates a unique atmosphere and experience. At this event we are hoping to attract positive psychology practitioners as well, to enhance the mix!
Some of the particular benefits of attending this event will include:
- The opportunity to spend time learning through focused dialogue with many experienced practitioners (rather than time in lectures)
Co-created change differs in its process and effects from imposed change. Whole-system change methodologies such as Appreciative Inquiry and World Café facilitate co-created change.
This is an edited extract from my new book Positive Psychology and Change
1. Calls on the organization’s collective intelligence
Participative co-creation involves, from the very beginning, those affected by the change, allowing them to apply their ‘local knowledge’ intelligence at the point at which it can save the organisation both time and money.
Over the past year we have assembled a range of card packs to support development activities from coaching to strategy development. In particular we have our own Positive Organisational Development Cards that condense the wisdom of positive psychology into questions and action suggestions across twenty themes, from leadership to positive emotions. We also have a selection of Strengths Cards suitable for groups across the organisation. And we have a range of other cards to enable work with Values, Behaviour, Expertise and Emotional Intelligence. While many have free downloadable pdf guides, all are highly versatile, easily portable and great value!
Save smart - make savings and improvements without the hidden costs
In the quest for ever great efficiencies, productivity and general cost saving, a few key questions can open up new avenues to improve performance and profitability.
How is it different, why is it better?
Co-creative approaches to organization change such as Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space, and World Café have some very distinctive features that differentiate them from more familiar top-down planned approaches to change.
A number of Appreciative Inquiry practitioners were having a conversation concerning the strong demand frequently experienced from commissioners and contractors for a highly convergent end to a discursive, divergent event.
We asked ourselves two questions: What was this request an expression of? and How could we meet it without compromising the spirit of our endeavours? Here are the high points of our discussion.
One might have thought that the expression of gratitude was for the benefit of the recipient, to feel acknowledged and affirmed in their generous act: possibly so. However the experience of gratitude also brings great benefit to the donor, and some of those benefits can be seen to act as an inoculation against the dangerous seductions of privilege, power and position.
Cognitive research illuminates how our brains make decisions, and how they are different from computers. Compared to computers our brains are slow, noisy and imprecise. And, paradoxically perhaps, this makes them much more efficient than computers,
When people don’t comply with legal requirements organizations can face penalties and fines running into the thousands. To take just a few recent examples
In November last year a Greater London pizza manufacturer was fined £15,000 after failing to respond to warnings about an unsafe doorway.
Also in November Hertfordshire County Council accidentally faxed details of two cases it was dealing with to a member of the public and was fined £100,000 for breaching the Data Protection Act.
Given this is it surprising the extent to which organizations struggle with the concept of change in organizations. Myths abound. Working with organizations I constantly hear the refrain ‘people don’t like change’ and ‘change is hard’. Neither of these statements are necessarily true, as we see below. What is true is that the way we understand organizations, understand change, and go about achieving change can make the job much harder than it need be.